Grilled (or Baked!) Tomatoes Stuffed with Bacon, Basil, and Blue Cheese

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Makes 4 servings
Adapted from: Peter Kaminsky and Marie Rama
Originally from January 2014 on my old blog

Let’s be real here: stuffed ANYTHING is good. Stuffed potatoes, lobster, peppers, turkey… there really is no way to go wrong with stuffing food with other food. I just really like this dish because it’s the perfect side to something simple like chicken or steak or pasta or whatever you want; it compliments many options and tastes amazing without stealing the spotlight.

This basically combines all of my favorite things. I would LOVE to just eat a bowl of blue cheese or breadcrumbs or bacon straight if that was socially acceptable. This is all of those things, just made pretty by shoving it into a perfectly round, sweet, juicy tomato. Now that you have me ranting about it, I wish I could turn back the clocks to last night and eat these again!

Side story: I was in Urban Outfitters a few weeks ago and came across this book (Urban has the BEST books, by the way) of recipes, called “Bacon Nation: 125 Irresistible Recipes.” I knew it had to be mine. 125 ways to use bacon in recipes? Yes, please. And that’s where I found this recipe!

Ingredients:

~4 large ripe tomatoes, about 6 or 7 ounces each
~¾ cup breadcrumbs (white or whole wheat, panko or regular, homemade or store bought, whatever blows up your skirt)
~5 slices bacon, diced
~2/3 cup diced red onion
~½ cup loosely packed, coarsely crumbled blue cheese
~½ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
~1 large clove garlic, minced
~2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the grill grate
~1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

If using a grill: Lightly oil grill grate. Preheat a gas grill to medium or prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill. If baking the tomatoes, preheat the oven to 400 F.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until browned and most of the fat is rendered, about 8 minutes, stirring often and adjusting the heat as necessary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, reserving 1 ½ tablespoons of bacon fat in the skillet.

Add the red onion to the skillet and cook over medium heat until it begins to soften, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and the onion is softened, about 1 minute. Add the bread crumbs and basil and stir until well combined. Transfer the onion mixture to a medium sized bowl. Add the blue cheese and drained bacon and set aside.

To prepare the tomatoes, use a paring knife and carve out a cone shape on the top, then just kind of dig your way around until you have a hollow tomato. It’s not going to be the prettiest thing ever, but once its baked, it won’t make a difference.

Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar and drizzle about 1 teaspoon of the dressing over each tomato. Sprinkle the tops of the tomatoes lightly with salt and pepper. Divide the bacon, blue cheese, and breadcrumbs mixture evenly among the tomatoes, filling all the way to the top.

Place the tomatoes on the oiled grill grate, cover the grill, and grill the tomatoes until they have softened and the stuffing is warmed through, 10 to 15 minutes. If you are using a charcoal grill, check the tomatoes after 5 minutes and if the fire is too hot, causing the tomatoes to burn or cook too quickly, move them to the edge of the grill to continue cooking If you need the center of the grill for cooking other foods, like chicken or steak, the tomatoes can be cooked on the outer edge of the grill or on the grill’s top shelf over the cooking grate; the cooking time will be longer.

If baking the tomatoes, place them in a shallow oiled baking dish in the 400 degree oven and bake for about 14 minutes, then broil for about 1 minute to brown the stuffing.

Happy dining!!

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